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Maryland Property Rights

Since the decision by the United States Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London many states across the country have taken measures to help protect the rights of private ownership.  The controversial Kelo decision held that a local government can take the private property of one person and give it to another private entity.  While the Court’s ruling was seen by many as a serious blow to citizen’s constitutionally protected rights of private property ownership, the decision prompted a number of states to initiate legislative reform to help curb eminent domain abuse.

The Castle Coalition has released a report, grading each of the states based on their efforts to protect private property owners and their rights based on changes in their respective state laws.  The Castle Coalition is the Institute for Justice’s nationwide grassroots property rights activism project that teaches home and small business owners how to protect themselves and stand up to abuse by governments and developers who seek to use eminent domain to take private property for their own gain.  Stated below is the letter grade, as given by the Castle Coalition, along with a description of the changes that have occurred since Kelo v. City of New London.

Maryland Castle Coalition letter grade of

d

In 2007, Senate Bill 3 was passed in the state of Maryland, which requires condemning authorities to act upon proceedings within four years of condemnation authorization. If the condemning authority ceases to abide by these rules, then the eminent domain authorization expires. This bill will slightly reduce unnecessary condemnation proceedings, making private developers more aware the repercussions of condemning land and ceasing to use it in a timely manner. In 2006, more than 40 eminent domain-related bills were presented in the Maryland legislature, however in 2007, this was the only semi-successful bill that was passed.

Summary

The state of Maryland saw nearly no reform with the signing of Senate Bill 3, which only slightly helps property owners against unjust eminent domain proceedings. In order for this state to see significant reform, several issues need to be addressed, including the definition of blight and the taking of private property for private transfers.

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